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Use of Herbs in General

If a recipe or dish calls for tarragon, parsley, dill, rosemary, and culantro...don't you feel like one should accentuate one herb or flavor? My standard is "one herb, one love." Same with spicy peppers - I don't like to combine flavors. Does anyone else feel that?

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  1. I don't season that way.
    If the dish is "tarragon chicken" or "lemon dill salmon" then I'd be tempted to bump up that flavour, but even then it's probably already done.
    But a bouquet garni is used for a reason, not to enunciate one of the herbs over the blend.

    1. I respectfully disagree. Such classics as garam masala, herbs d' Provence, adobo, 5 spice powder, and curry require a blend of herbs and spices. The whole is better than the parts.

      To just throw a variety of things into the pot because you have them is a crime. At least to me. And reflects my learning process when I was starting out.

      1. You've got a recipe using all of those herbs together? What's the main ingredient these herbs are flavoring?

        To your question, I have to agree with Kris, as long as the herbs are ones that generally play well with others, but I'd be closely examining any recipe that put multiple assertive herbs together.

        Full disclosure: I like everything in that list but culantro. I won't use it or cilantro in anything, ever.

        4 Replies
        1. re: mcsheridan

          You must be one of those 10% where cilantro tastes like soap. I have a very good indian friend who cannot stand the taste of cilantro!

          I ran across a recipe for roast chicken, and it had those ingredients listed.

          1. re: rudeboy

            I honestly cannot even fathom putting tarragon, dill and rosemary together.

            (And I'm a cilantro hater as well. It's well documented on the WFD threads on Home Cooking.)

            Like mcsheridan notes below, Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme (hello, Simon & Garfunkel!) together for roasting poultry works.

            1. re: LindaWhit

              The song, Scarborough Fair, which incorporates in the lyrics "parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme" is a traditional English song. It reflects some of the main herbs we can grow in Northern Europe and regularly use in our cooking.

              No coriander or basil for us in those days.

            2. re: rudeboy

              Yup. Nothing can ever induce me to eat that herb. Tastes like someone dipped pennies in dishwashing liquid.

              As to the roast chicken recipe in question, I'd have the recipe creator flogged in the public square. :)

          2. Nope. Don't feel this way at all.

            Different peppers bring different flavors that when well-chosen offer a more full flavor than any one alone.

            Herbs that grow together compliment each other. For thousands of years, in every culture, traditional recipes have found that a combination of herbs, spices, and peppers create a flavor profile that is delicious. And becomes the "taste" of that cuisine.

            1. Sometimes it's good to keep things simple, but sometimes different flavors can combine to create even greater things. Think of what we'd miss out on if we didn't combine herbs or spices: pretty much all the best of Southeast Asia, the subcontinent and the Middle East.

              1 Reply
              1. Nope, I often use lots of herbs together, especially very fresh ones.

                1. There are dishes where you really only want one standout herb and others where you want more general background notes.

                  I'd be interested to know the recipe that includes the five herbs mentioned in the OP - they don't all seem to sit well with me.

                    1. re: sandylc

                      I totally agree; it's like a case of "one of these things is not like the others". With the exception of the parsley, all of those herbs have seriously assertive flavors and can carry a dish on their own.

                      1. re: mcsheridan

                        I was assuming that the OP was just throwing some stuff out there to make his point. If this combination is from an actual recipe, I would be looking for a different recipe for that dish.

                    2. It sounds like the majority opinion is that combining herbs, a la bouquet garni, is appropriate. I'll have to confess that I do have bouquet garni in my pantry, and for this past Christmas, I used three fresh herbs combined on the turkey.

                      Dill, sage, and true tarragon are herbs that I don't like to contaminate with others. Maybe I should have been a bit more specific in my OP. I like those flavors to dominate.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: rudeboy

                        <Dill, sage, and true tarragon are herbs that I don't like to contaminate with others.>

                        There are so many dishes out there that do the single herb approach, and the three you mention are definitely well-represented among them. I'm thinking of Shrimp Salad with Dillweed, Chicken Tarragon Salad, that sort of thing. I rarely add any other herbs to a dish with either Tarragon or Dill, but while Sage does stand well on its own in some Italian dishes, like Fettucine with Brown Butter and Sage, if I'm using it with poultry, the Rosemary and Thyme are coming along for the ride.

                        1. re: mcsheridan

                          Good point, mcsheridan. This is a really well-thought sentiment. I've got that Simon and Garfunkel song stuck in me head now!

                          1. re: rudeboy

                            Re: S&G - as well it should be. :)

                          1. re: sandylc

                            And together they make a pork roast sing!

                            1. re: sandylc

                              Love to hear this!

                              I've grown/used thyme for years (soups, stews, casseroles, etc). One of my favorite herbs. I finally started growing sage this year. What took me so long??? Beautiful plant and the leaves impart a wonderful scent on my fingers.

                              1. re: pedalfaster

                                Yes Sage is wonderful - subtle, yet unique in flavor.

                                1. re: pedalfaster

                                  Homemade breakfast sausage with sage and thyme, along with some red chili flakes and cayenne to spice things up. S&P and a speck of sugar for browning, and you have a lovely breakfast. Great when cooked using the smashburger method.

                              2. re: rudeboy

                                Persian recipes often call for combinations of herbs in large quantities.

                              3. No, that might be the case, for example, in dishes where an herb accentuates a sauce, or something like that. But I regularly make recipes that call for a mixture of parsley, dill, cilantro, and chives. In Persian cuisine, they're often mixed and the result is a new flavor.

                                  1. I pretty routinely use strong herbal flavors together that blend well. Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme play well together, not just in song. I like fresh herbs only. Parsley and mint in tabouleh... but tarragon alone. Dill goes well with thyme and parsley in chicken soup...

                                    I love toasting and blending a variety of dried peppers.

                                    1. A bit off topic, but in culinary school I learned that dried herbs go in a dish at the beginning -- to release the essential oils, while fresh herbs go in at the end.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: thymeoz

                                        And the one herb that is frequently better dried than fresh is oregano.

                                      2. Nope. You get a much more complex result with multiple chiles, some are fruity, some are chocolaty, some astringent, they really run the gamut. I feel the same way about herbs, I like the surprise on the palate, when flavors open up to you one after another, in different parts of the mouth.

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: zeldaz51

                                          Agreed; I love to combine peppers, sometimes a mixture of dried & fresh or just different varieties of dried. Same thing with onions, each has it's own flavor and can play well together. I have a cabinet full of spices; I can't imagine just using one in a dish when I can use more than one (that is, if the combination goes well together...)